TOM stands for Tikkun Olam Makers. Tikkun Olam is the Jewish concept which stands for 'repairing the world'. TOM is a global movement bringing together people with disabilities and Makers to develop open source assistive technology to address everyday challenges.
TOM Makeathon is 72-hour long marathon of non-stop problem-solving by teams of Makers and Need Knowers. It is a hackathon-style-event, not unsimilar to regular hackathons run by developers. Need Knowers are individuals with a personal understanding of the needs of people with disabilities. In most cases these are the ones living with disabilities themselves; in others, these are relatives, caregivers or professionals. At TOM, Need Knowers are critical to teams — working alongside the Makers through each stage of prototyping. On the other hand Makers are designers, developers, engineers and anyone who loves creating. At TOM, Makers are the ones that execute every stage of the prototype, turning an idea into a reality.
TOM Varna is a 72 hours Makeathon where participants are divided in teams. Each team is selected among two different types of applicants – Need Knowers and Makers. Each team has one Need Knower and between 4 up to 6 Makers.
The Need Knowers identify a need or challenge they face, explaining also why it is important a solution to be found. Once the information from different Need Knowers is gathered and the submissions are closed, the challenges are assessed. A research is made for possible solutions that already exist, their cost and availability (also in Bulgaria). After assessment, 4 to 5 challenges are selected to be addressed during TOM.
At the same time call for submitting a talent is open for the Makers. The Makers describe what is their professional field, what areas they are good at and what motivates them. Again after the application period is closed the selection is made. After this the challenges are presented to the Makers to choose which one they prefer to participate in order best to match wishes and skills.
Then all the accepted participants are gathered for an evening to meet each other. The PreTOM is the first meeting of the TOM teams. For the first time, teams will be assigned and participants will get started on their projects - towards finding a solution.
To this end, volunteers are being recruited to take care of the program and provide on-site support. Volunteers meet two weeks before the event. At the training they meet each other and the TOM Team, go over the schedule, and learn more about their roles. They are trained on how to be good ambassadors of TOM.
TOM starts with official opening where media is invited.
During the TOM teams work for 72 hours together with people with special needs for prototyping and developing solutions.
In parallel, lectures are held that are open to external visitors. The aim is to generate public attention and to enable external visitors to learn more about the marathon. The open lectures are made with a focus on social entrepreneurship and create a platform for young people also to engage in discussion on social inclusion.
The technological marathon ends with an official presentation of each team and prototype, which is open to the general public and media. A jury from the start-up, social and business innovation sectors is selected which gives awards and mentoring. The awards are aiming to encourage teams to continue to work on the projects, to connect them with potential partners and/or investors.
Events after TOM:
Events after TOM include several feedback sessions, team meetings to discuss next steps and meetings with potential investors.
TOM Varna 2017 aim to empower the youth to bridge the gap between technology and community by developing and transforming the minds of young people for positive change. Also TOM Varna 2017 will enhance leadership development among youth through collaboration and co-creation with people who are usually excluded from full participation in society. The project will engage youth to take a role in organizing community based activities that promote positive lifestyles and care for environment to make the world a better place and sustain it.
TOM aims to widen the horizons of the participants and to stimulate them to explore new markets and arias, which are often neglected. In addition to solving a specific problem, in the long term perspective the prototypes can serve as a start for entrepreneurship initiatives, develop business strategies and form teams with big technical and economic potential. People with special needs are seen as an irreplaceable source of knowledge from a different point of view and TOM provides the needed environment for the exchange of this knowledge to happen in the most natural way. The practical experience gained during TOM is unique and often lacking to young people as well as professionals in different areas.